Master the Missal of Reus
Virgin and Child surrounded by angels playing music
Tempera on panel
212 x 124 cm.
Catalonia, 14th Century (1360-1380)
Private collection, Ireland
This splendid panel shos the Virgin Mary seated on her heavenly throne, crowned as Queen of Angels and presenting her Son seated on her lap. He turns his head towards the little bird that that takes flight towards Him, while his Mother keeps him encircled with a small cord that she holds with a delicate clip in her right hand. His left hand gently caresses the Child’s back. On the other hand, He makes a blessing gesture with His right hand, while with His left hand He holds a roll with the Latin legend “Ego sum alpha et o[mega]”, corresponding to Revelation 1:8 (also 21:6 and 22:13). The throne is enveloped by a group of six musical angels with wings of peacock feathers.
It conforms a highly widespread iconography in the large central altarpiece panels of the 14th century in the Aragon Crown and the artist treats it with great elegance, balance and refinement.
As for the artist, Josep Guidol refers to this panel placing it around 1360 and considering it as the prototype of the great series of Marian representations, the fundamental theme of Catalan paintings in the second half of the 14th century. This work is attributed to the Master the Missal of Reus, a painter who closely follows the fully italianising forms of this century in Catalonia, in line with the dominant figures of the time: Ramón Destorrents and the Serra Brothers’ workshop in Barcelona.